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Seoul is investigating whether a demoted North Korean general has won back his former rank as a reward for the sinking of a South Korean warship, an official said Monday.
North Korean TV footage and a still photo released over the weekend showed Kim Myong-Guk wearing a uniform with four stars on the collar.
Kim, who heads the general staff's operations bureau, had been demoted to a three-star general in January, earlier photos showed.
"We are trying to check what's behind his promotion," a Seoul intelligence official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
The United States is prepared to take action if the sinking of a South Korean warship is linked to North Korea, a senior U.S. diplomat said Monday.
Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell did not elaborate, but U.S. officials have expressed support for further United Nations sanctions, as proposed by South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan.
-A stray South Korean mine could not have sunk one of the country's warships, the defence ministry said Wednesday, in comments likely to heighten suspicions that North Korea was to blame.
"Its technically not possible," said spokesman Won Tae-Jae, dismissing suggestions that a South Korean mine planted in the Yellow Sea in the 1970s might have blown the corvette apart.
-An unidentified official told Yonhap news agency that Seoul has not ruled out a military response if Pyongyang's involvement in the ship sinking is proved, but would likely take the case to the United Nations Security Council.
Bruce Klingner, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation and a former CIA analyst. "Better to engage in a lengthy investigation, both to gather irrefutable evidence and to delay the inevitable day of reckoning."
the ship was probably hit by a Chinese-made 206 kg-class Yu-3 heavy torpedo.
What they don't know can't prove is that North Korea fired the torpedo.
Let's consider who could have fired the torpedo. China could be blowing up foreign ships to prove its dominance in the region. A Soviet submarine that never came home could be on the rampage. Al Qaeda might have their own submarine. Or it could be the militaristic rogue state next door that has a long history of nearly provoking war.
The only real question is whether this was a stupid, irrational move by Kim Jong-il or part of a larger plan to force economic concessions.
Seoul's defence minister on Sunday vowed retaliation over the sinking of a South Korean warship which killed 46 sailors near the disputed sea border with North Korea last month.
"Those responsible for killing our soldiers must pay the price," Defence Minister Kim Tae-Young told a KBS television programme aired nationwide on Sunday.
"Retaliation -- in whatever form it is -- must be done."
It echoed South Korean Navy chief Admiral Kim Sung-Chan's reprisal pledge during Thursday's mass funeral for the sailors, attended by President Lee Myung-Bak.
President Lee Myung-bak will chair a meeting of top military commanders next week, his spokesman said Sunday, a reflection of how seriously he regards last month's deadly sinking of a naval ship in waters near North Korea.
Lee will preside over the military commanders' meeting on Tuesday, marking the first time in history for a South Korean president to chair such a meeting, presidential spokesman Park Sun-kyoo said.
Surveillance cameras, commonly known as closed circuit television or CCTV cameras, were installed in five or six locations in the 1,200-ton patrol ship Cheonan, such as hallways and the munitions room, for better oversight of the situation in the vessel, the source said.
"The joint investigation team is trying to recover CCTV" images, the source said on condition of anonymity. "The images, if recovered, would provide a significant clue to finding out what the ship was like at the time of the explosion and figuring out the situation before and after" the sinking, he said.
SEOUL (Reuters) – Investigators probing the deadly sinking of a South Korean navy ship in March near the North have concluded that a torpedo was the source of an explosion that destroyed the vessel, a news report said on Friday.
The team of South Korean and foreign investigators found traces of explosives used in torpedoes on several parts of the sunken ship as well as pieces of composite metal used in such weapons, South Korea's Yonhap news agency said quoting a senior government official.
South Korean officials have not officially accused the North but made little secret of their belief Pyongyang deliberately torpedoed the 1,200-tonne corvette Cheonan in March near their disputed border in retaliation of a naval firefight last year.
The metallic debris and chemical residue appear to be consistent with a type of torpedo made in Germany, indicating the North may have been trying to disguise its involvement by avoiding arms made by allies China and Russia, Yonhap quoted the official as saying.
North Korea has denied involvement and accused South Korean President Lee Myung-bak's government of trying to use the incident for political gains ahead of local elections in June.
Beijing will accept the findings of a probe into the sinking of the South Korean Navy corvette Cheonan on March 26, President Lee Myung-bak on Friday told Grand National Party leaders including Chairman Chung Mong-joon and new GNP floor leader Kim Moo-sung.
GNP spokesman Cho Hae-jin quoted Lee as saying, "Once the outcome of an objective, scientific investigation of the Cheonan sinking is known, we will consult with China as I promised during the last Seoul-Beijing summit. The Chinese government will accept the findings and assume a role."
As South Korea awaits the results of a probe into the sinking of a warship, expected to be made public Thursday, debate is already underway over the policy options open to Seoul if the investigation holds North Korea responsible.
The Cheonan sank the evening of March 26 following a mysterious explosion that blew her in half. Forty-six sailors were lost as the 1,200-ton vessel went down near disputed waters in the Yellow Sea.
Seoul has convened a multinational team -- including American, Australian, British and Swedish as well as South Korean members -- to investigate the cause of the disaster. Their findings will be revealed to reporters Wednesday, and the committee will announce its findings Thursday.